Blue Lola Headphones Review: Good Microphone Maker Also Good at Headphones


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iPhone Gaming
Blue Microphones has been most known for their, well, microphones. It's not uncommon to see someone at least somewhat dedicated to higher-quality microphones than built-in setups to be rocking the Blue Snowball or Yeti. Blue has started getting into headphones as well, and their second pair, Lola, is a fantastic entry into the market. The Lola is a bit bulky, but it offers fantastic, balanced sound for the price.

Blue Lola is a reworking of the Blue Mo-Fi that released in 2014. Those headphones were an interesting thing, because it had a unique design, a headband compression mechanism that allowed you to change how much it compressed, and of course, the integrated headphone amp. Lola uses a similar design, eschews the compression mechanism, and drops off the amplifier altogether. The cables are a flat design, containing a short remote-and-mic cable, along with a longer audio-only cable.

Now, the thing that was interesting to me was that the Mo-Fi never felt like it needed the amp when I demoed for short amounts of time. Lola will push your iPhone's included amp to its limits, sure, but an amp is unnecessary for most people. The other downside to the included amplifier implementation was that it since it didn't have any real volume control, it wasn't intended for line level sources. So, you'd have to amplify a signal already getting subpar amplification from your device. So, it seems like Lola is a smarter option for $100 less. You can spend that $100 on a dedicated headphone DAC/amp (a Fiio Q1 plus the Camera Connection Kit would run you $100), or even jump up to higher quality from there. The headphones don't suffer without an amp, but they do see some improvement when plugged into one.

But Lola has great sound quality even straight out from an iPhone or iPad. The sound is rather balanced, giving all components of the sound a good representation, while not sounding analytical to an excessive degree. That's a problem with high-end headphones: they reveal so much that anything but the best recordings suffer. While the analytical sound appeals to many, for the average person who wants to enjoy their music, Blue Lola is a great way to experience much greater detail and clarity without losing the liveliness of it. The bass has good kick and extension down to the lowest audible frequencies, thanks in part to the deep leather pads. These aren't necessarily bass monsters; if you come from Beats, you will likely be impressed at how well things like vocals actually come through! The pads also help provide Lola with a great soundstage for closed headphones as well.

I would say that compared to similar headphones around its class, Lola has fantastic resolution, but on lower-quality amplifiers, you may notice some distortion at times. While this problem tends to go away if you plug into a better amplifier – I didn't notice much distortion when using my Objective2 amplifier – you can still enjoy this straight out of your iPhone. You'll just be cranking the volume up pretty high. But this is definitely something that will scale up well enough with better audio equipment if you fall into that trap.

One of the more impressive aspects of the Blue Lola is that the noise isolation is fantastic. This isn't to be confused with active noise cancellation, it just means that the Lola manages to to block out a significant amount of noise. The measurements, by headphones expert Tyll Herstens at Innerfidelity, confirm it.. This is the headphone to get if you want to block out the world.

While Lola comes with an iOS-compatible cable with remote, I don't know if I'd call these portable. They don't fold down into a portable shape, and while they come with a carrying bag, these are meant more for packing into a suitcase. You could possibly stick them in a backpack, but if you have limited space available, you won't really be taking these with you. Also, they look goofy, especially if your head is kind of uneven:

I'm impressed with the Blue Lola. I've been messing around with mid-fi headphones in its price range, and they stand up to whatever I've tested if not excelling. I used these for about a month, and I was using them in place of headphones I bought for myself. Now, should you be paying $250 for these headphones? Sure. I think people who say that they're happy with just their included earbuds are missing out. Even a decent $50 pair of in-ear monitors or headphones will be such an improved experience. And if you're willing to take a risk on something that's pricey and not Beats, or a popular mid-fi pair like the Audio-Technica M50X (a fine pair of headphones, but you can do better), this is a great entry point. These are a versatile pair of headphones, and I definitely recommend them.

Now, should you be buying expensive headphones in this age where the headphone jack might be dying? Well, an adapter is bound to happen – wouldn't be difficult to do, and my guess is that Apple's adapter would even support the TRRS remote+mic standard that few other DAC/amps support. But even just for sitting around the house as these are best used for, using an adapter or other external equipment is hardly a problem. While I'd love for them to be a bit more portable-friendly, I highly recommend the Blue Lola.

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